Court TV is taking its “Seriously Entertaining” prime-time programming on the road, even before its new “Seriously Entertaining” branding shows up on the screen.
The network is launching a tour that kicks off June 11 in Washington. It will hit 10 major cities and is sponsored by Geico, Lipton Iced Tea and Maalox.
The network will start calling itself “Seriously Entertaining” in prime time and “Court TV News” during daytime trial coverage in July.
Many networks, including Court TV, stage tours to drum up attention for their shows and to create local advertising and promotional opportunities for their cable operator affiliates.
“It’s a really great opportunity for us to get our viewers on board and give them an opportunity to touch and feel the network,” said Mary Corigliano, senior VP of marketing at Court TV.
She said this summer’s tour is very different from what the channel has done in the past with its Mobile Investigation Unit, which was used to reinforce Court TV’s image as “The Investigation Channel.” Many of those exhibits and activities were geared toward schoolchildren.
“This is going to really play off of our new look and feel and our prime-time position,” Ms. Corigliano said.
Exhibits will be based on elements of Court TV prime-time shows “Masterminds,” “Psychic Detectives,” “Parco PI,” “The Smoking Gun” and “Casino Takedown.”
For example, visitors to the tour will try to crack a safe and win prizes as part of The Masterminds Code-Cracking Challenge. They’ll have their tarot cards and palms read at the Psychic Detectives Life area. They’ll be strapped to a lie detector and be shown other gadgets used by private investigators at the Parco exhibit.
This year’s Court TV tour will also differ from past years’ tours because some of the stops are being including as part of other local events.
“We’re really integrating ourselves into the environment in a very seamless way, which I also think is a very fun way to create interaction,” said Kathi Palminteri, senior director of promotions/marketing.
In Dallas, the Court TV Tour will be a part of the Taste of Dallas festival. It will also be part of the Indiana State Fair and the Belleville National Strawberry Festival outside Detroit.
“We’ll have that built-in audience, and I think it’s a great way to create a more fun experience around our brand,” Ms. Corigliano said. “Tying into these existing events you can leverage off of the marketing muscle that’s happening locally.”
Additional marketing muscle will also be provided by local cable operators participating in the tour.
“They’ll have customizable local materials, including a spot that can run locally to generate awareness for their clients and for the network as well as drive traffic to the tour,” Ms. Palminteri said.
Court TV’s local affiliates will have their own ad sales and opportunities. “There will be a dedicated area within the compound for the local cable affiliate to use for marketing and/or their clients,” she said. “It’s a great way for them to showcase their broadband or their ancillary business services and generate local revenue, and obviously that helps us locally as well in terms of generating awareness for the brand.”
While Court TV is using the “Seriously Entertaining” title for the tour, the tour is not designed to launch the new on-air brand. “We do think this will be a seriously entertaining tour, and I think it fits right in with who we are and who we want to be,” Ms. Corigliano said.
But, she added, “It’s certainly not a launch event by any means. We chose the name because it really made sense for the tour. There will only be a couple of weeks where we won’t be `Seriously Entertaining’ on-air.”
Overall, she said, the tour is designed for “creating awareness for the network. It’s allowing our die-hard fans, giving them an opportunity to really touch and feel us and experience the programming in an interactive way as well as introduce us to some people who may not be as familiar with our prime-time programming.”